OOO = Success

I’ll be honest, I don’t love the concept of Mastering Motherhood. Put that way it sounds like an ideal we should be striving towards, an ideal that looks the same for everyone. And, as I’ve learned through hard experience, chasing after ideals rarely ends in success. 

Before I had kids I worked on the sales side of book publishing, an industry I love. But, as it does for every parent, my life changed when my oldest daughter turned two years old and I decided I wanted another baby. I had a great job and fantastic coworkers, but I didn't want an office job that required extensive travel and only allowed me to see my daughters at bedtime. I wanted to experience my daughters throughout the day. Maybe this was nothing more than driving them to a dance class or piano lesson, but most importantly I wanted to figure out how to spend my time differently, and have the flexibility to be available. I missed out on so many of my oldest child’s “firsts”—her first steps at fifteen months, her first Dr. Martin Luther King Oratorical fest, losing her first tooth. At the age of forty, I had a third baby, and I wanted the freedom to choose how I spent my time. My priorities shifted and I wanted to have the choice to be part of my three daughters’ everyday achievements and milestones. 

Photo Credit: Arlene Easterwood

I was left with this question: How do I want to walk in this world? There is no one definitive answer, but, after 20 years of seeking and three kids, I did know that it involved a bit more freedom than I can find from someone else’s schedule. I wanted to find my own path and be a role model for my girls. I wanted to show my three daughters that as a mother you can work outside of an office and be successful. You can build your own brand. Most importantly, I want to use my higher education and skill-set, to better the world and my family. I often think back on a Comparative Literature class I took at the University of Oregon. In the course, we read Alberto Mangeul’s A History of Reading, and his writing changed my perspective on who I would become in the world. I found beauty in books. I found beauty in the tangibility of the written word. 

At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book—that string of confused, alien ciphers—shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader." —Alberto Manguel

And, while motherhood is generally viewed as an impediment to one’s career, in a lot of ways motherhood has taught me how to be an effective leader of my own company. Motherhood forced me (sometimes painfully!) to learn how to build teams, figure out what motivates people, problem solve, delegate, listen carefully, drive myself and others to do better, and most importantly, how to create joy. Motherhood taught me that stories are important: the stories we read as well as the stories we tell ourselves. It also taught me that nothing is impossible, even if it seems that way at first. 

My career is important to me, but it isn't my "everything." Instead, it’s one of my many passions. I don’t have a “work-self” and “home-self.” Instead they are both part of the larger picture that makes up my life. With all of that in mind, I founded a hybrid book publisher called The Collective Book Studio where I work with authors and content creators to bring their dreams of getting published to life. I am in the process of creating a community for myself and others who are seeking a different way to work and to create. I want to bring beautiful books into the world, and raise strong daughters, and I am absolutely certain that I can do both. 

My life as a mother and a business owner has been about making mistakes and learning from them. There is no way to separate the lessons I’ve learned from each role. For me, it’s not about “Mastering Motherhood” or “Mastering Work,” instead it’s a never-ending process of seeking self and striving for my own personal brand of success.

Updated April 2024

Meet Angela Engel

When Angela Engel launched The Collective Book Studio she wanted to build a different kind of publishing business, one that adhered to the author’s vision every step of the way. Her experience in traditional publishing allows her to introduce beautiful books into the world, and she brings her passion for reading and sharing new ideas into every new project...